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"Oriental Adventures, 15 days"

The Orient is a delicate thing: fine pattern, delicate silk, fine art, graceful and charming dances… There are a few people in the world who are indifferent to the beautiful. That’s why the East as a whole and Central Asia in particular has always attracted rapt attention of military leaders, invaders and ordinary wonderers.
Price: $ 2088
Feature tour:
Day 1. Tashkent. Arrival. City-tour.

Well, you’ve finally landed in Tashkent International Airport. You are at the Asian land at last and are ready to start discovering valuables of you Oriental Adventures! But don’t hurry as any kind of haste is alien to the eastern culture built on the principles of meditation and thoughtfulness. For the beginning you will be met and accommodated at a hotel.

«Tashkent» if translated from Turkic means «Stone City». Here is the starting point of your discoveries; this is the first handful of gems in your Oriental Adventures! Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan, the fourth largest city in CIS with a huge population of about 2,3 million people. The city is conditionally divided in two parts - the Old and the New city. The names are self-explanatory: in the Old city you will find mausoleums, madrassas and an authentic oriental bazaar, whereas in the New one there are modern monuments, buildings, parks, and squares.

You will start from the attractions of the Old city. The first gem in your casket is the - Madrasah of Barak Khan. This is a splendid monument of the XVI C located in the very heart of the Old city - the Hast Imam Square. The madrasah is surrounded by ancient wattle and daub houses almost like they were in distant past. In the past the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Central Asia headed by the mufti was lodged in the madrasah building. In addition, there is a huge library of eastern manuscripts here, and the world-known Uthman Qur"an is kept here in a special room. This manuscript was written in the middle of the VII C and is the source of the sacred book of Islam - the Qur’an. It consists of 353 large-sized parchment pages, which were kept in the treasuries of caliphs for centuries (in Medina, Damascus and Baghdad). In Timur Lang’s time the Uthman Qur"an was brought from Baghdad to Uzbekistan and then (in the XIX C) it visited St.-Petersburg, where Russian scientists proved its authenticity. Later it came back to Central Asia via Ufa and now it is kept here.

Next pearl is the - Mausoleum of Yunus Khan. This monumental construction was built in the XV C in the honor of one of the Tashkent rulers. Nowadays, the entire block of the city is named after this medieval feudal lord. The building is quite well-preserved.

The Mazar of Kafal-Al-Shashi (sacred Sufi tomb, XVI C) is an asymmetric domed mausoleum - khanaqah. Khanaqah is a monastery type dormitory consisting of cells for pilgrims. Single cell is known as "khujdra”. The mausoleum was erected in the X C at the burial place of Kafal-Al-Shashi who was a famous missionary, a preacher of shafiitism and a Sufi poet. Later, after the mausoleum was reconstructed it has become a popular Muslim pilgrimage site.

Another jewel of Tashkent is the Kukeldash Madrasah (XVI C). It is situated not far from the oriental bazaar Chor-Su and is one of 23 madrassas of old Tashkent. It was built under the direction of the minister of the Shaybanid sultans known as Kukeldash (which means "foster-brother” or a person who was breast-fed by that same woman who nursed the ruler). The uniqueness of the madrasah is in the fact that it is functioning. Many Muslim students live and study there nowadays.

And now let’s have a look at the New city! You’ll see how diverse are the treasures kept in your casket! First of all you will head for the Museum of Applied Arts, because the roots of handicraft traditions of the Uzbek nation are traced back to the depth of centuries. This single museum fully exhibits the best samples of national crafts spread in different regions of Uzbekistan: for instance, there you can see knives from Chust, ceramics from Rishtan, satin from Margilan, costumes with golden embroidery from Bukhara and much more.

Not far from the museum there is the Istiklol Square, which is the main square of the country located in the centre of the city. All large-scale public holidays are celebrated here. Recently its design was expanded with an immense arch, which is illuminated from beneath by small lights fixed into the ground. Those lights fill the surroundings with a cosmic glow. Then we are supposed to have a pleasant fifteen-minute walk from the Independence Square to the Uzbek State Opera and Ballet Theatre.

Afterwards you’ll proceed to the Istiqlol Square, which is the second largest square of the city. It is also often used as a venue of the national holidays’ celebration. Here is also a concert hall, where concerts of both local and foreign stars are held.

We recommend you getting to all the above-mentioned spots by underground. No traffic lights or jams! Moreover, it is the coolest transport in hot weather. «Tashkent underground is the most beautiful!!!» This phrase is frequently heard from both city guests and its dwellers. That’s true as each underground station is uniquely designed. If you look carefully, you’ll see how different are the station. Guess, you liked them, didn’t you? However, you are not allowed to take pictures in the underground.

Well, the first day of your journey was quite saturated with the impressions, therefore, perfect compliment to it will be a night spent in a cozy hotel room. Tomorrow you will have an opportunity to continue exploring the contents of your precious casket!

Day 2. Tashkent - Nukus (flight HY1001 07:10/09:55) - Mizdakhan - Nukus.
After having breakfast at the hotel in Tashkent you are to fly to Nukus - the capital of the autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan. This small town lying 1255 km to the west from Tashkent is located in delta of the Amu Darya River. Sometimes in jest, sometimes seriously, but Nukus is called the "northern capital”, as there are a lot of attractions here. At the same time because of an unpredictable twist of fate Nukus is situated in the epicenter of the ecocatastrophe, which is happening at the Aral Sea. Deserts surround it from three sides: the Kyzyl Kum ("red sand”), the Karakum ("black sand”) and the desert plateau Ustyurt. And dried-up Aral with its salty fields is often called Ak Kum ("white sand”) or Aral-Kum, which is the fourth desert locking the city into a king of trap.

After checking-in to the hotel decorated according to the guidelines of authentic national traditions, you will have a ride to the place called Khodjeyli where you will be amazed by the historic-architectural complex Mizdakhan. This city-cemetery with tombs of different epochs is probably the only place where several different religions, immortalized in various sepulchral edifices, are presented in a peaceful neighborhood on the same reverently silent land. The territory of the cemetery is quite huge. It is spread over three hills, which served previously as Zoroastrian funeral towers called "dakhma”. Mesmerizing view of the Mizdakhan Necropolis is due to the old nomadic tradition. This tradition demanded for the erection of impressive vaults or even domed towers above the tombs. Those towers were called "gumbaz”. In general all sepulchral edifices were meant to provide souls of the dead with the place of permanent residence, which they didn’t have during their physical existence.

On the Zhomard hill near the ruins of the mausoleum of Saint Rajab, as you manage to build a small pyramid of seven stones, you will be given a hope of your cherished wish fulfillment. There are a lot of such pyramids here! However, beware of destroying other pyramids for the sake of building yours as you can never build your happiness at the expense of the others!

Happy expectation of your wish fulfillment will soon give place to the astonishment because right there, at the tripod appearing in the distance, there said to be the tomb of Adam! Now you’ve discovered its secret location! Despite the fact that no mortal remains were found during excavations, pilgrims are still making their way here. Well, as it is said in the East: "Worship your own shadow if it makes you happy”.

Overnight in Nukus. Guess, you’ve already felt simultaneous similarity and difference of Uzbekistan and Karakalpakstan. Oh, by the way, how do you find today’s pearl from your casket?

Day 3. Nukus - Khiva (180 km, 3 hrs.).
Having said good-bye to Nukus you will head for the world famous Khiva. However, en route you will have a unique opportunity to walk in the mazes left from ancient settlements. Those are the remains of the ancient empire of Khwarezmia, which means the "Country of the Sun”. You will visit the ruins of Toprak Kala, Ayaz Kala and Kavat Kala. In the past there were more settlements, however, three above-mentioned are the best preserved ones. Here you will see the ruins of once great walls, branches and bays, the remains of hand-made irrigation systems and tumbled down but still impressive defensive walls of the bygone cities.

Toprak Kala is about 2000 years old. Behind the walls of the fortress one can see the street of the ancient city, the square, the remains of the fire-worshipers’ temple and tumbled down palace of the ruler at the background. And kilometers of illusive walls on the hills, blown through by all desert winds!

However, Nikolay Rudkovski, a traveler, thinks that the most remarkable fortress is Ayaz Kala, where you can shoot next "Star Wars” or "Transformers”. Wherever you look you see the great Kyzyl Kum desert, which is despite being a desert is full of life: suddenly you can see a cheerful jerboa or predatory-looking griffins watching you from afar. A small tumbled down fortress has perched on a cliff not far from Ayaz Kala. It looks like it is broken away from main city blocks.

Kavat Kala was a huge reinforced residence of a local feudal lord in the past. It seems like the surface of pahsa (adobe clay) corners and corrugated towers have not been touched by the time. Even carved panels of the palace walls seem to be almost new! The area of the citadel itself is hardly more than 3 hectares. However, there are clay ruins of once prospering landlords’ mansions, which can be seen right behind the nearest dunes here and there. By the way, thanks to Kavat Kala excavations, the history of Khwarezmia was supplemented by important details.

Upon arrival to Khiva, you will be accommodated in a hotel decorated in national style. Here you are supposed to spend a night before getting to know the mysterious pearl of the charming Orient called Khiva.

Day 4. Khiva.
Today you are to start a fascinating tour around inimitable Khiva! This «open-air museum» is a great example of an oriental city, which is almost untouched by time. After the city-tour you will be able to imagine easily everything described by Scheherazade in her sweetest tales for 1001 nights. And now let’s dive into the revived tale to look for another portion of our oriental adventures!

There are many local legends about the origin of Khiva and its name. One legend says that the city was founded by Sim, the son of biblical Noah. It tells that after the Deluge Sim was wondering in the desert. Once when he fell asleep he saw a dream. He saw three hundred burning torches outlining the ark in his dream. Awoken he rejoiced at that omen and founded a city outlining the ark just as he saw in a dream. Than Sim dug a well "Kheyvak”, which later was transformed into the word "Khiva” and became the name of the city.

Well, Khiva meets you with its ancient citadel È÷àí-Êàëà. Itchan Kala. The time has magically stopped forever within the walls of Itchan Kala. Here you can climb the stairs of the 44,5-meter high Minaret of Islam-Khoja, which is a symbol of Khiva. From the window on the top of the minaret you can enjoy a fabulous view of the city.

The Juma Mosque (X-XVIII CC) is also great. Its roof rests upon 212 carved wooden columns, each one decorated with its own unique ornament, which is not repeated anymore! The mosque is unique in architectural terms, as there is no similar construction in entire Central Asia.

And the Kalta-Minor Minaret was built back in 1835 and is still here. It is also known as the "short” and the "green”. And also… (Well, to describe all city attractions it is necessary to write a novel. However, even then I’m at risk of overlooking something interesting!).

Have a walk around the Museum of Avesta or the Museum of Wildlife! In addition, there is a Museum of Eastern Music where visitors are allowed to strum a little on different eastern instruments. Interesting, isn’t it?

Overnight at a hotel in Khiva.

Day 5. Khiva - Bukhara (440 km, 7-8 hrs.).
Today you are to accomplish a long and full of adventures ride from Khiva to Bukhara. The road stretches along the southern border of the Kyzyl Kum desert. You’ve already got used to the desert landscape of south-west Uzbekistan in the past few days, haven’t you? Well, today this usual landscape will be altered by the Amu Darya River as the road to Bukhara lies along it. The dunes are ochrous and the sky is azure or even the colour of classic denim if you’re looking at it through the sun-glasses. And straight away you feel that civilization is left somewhere far behind as there are no people, no traffic, just rare tiny settlements scattered along the road. And if there are cumulus clouds on the horizon it seems like far away at the very brink of the desert a fantastic mountain range is rising into the sky.

You will stop en route to visit an ancient cemetery. Its distinctive feature is "tabuty”, which are driven into the ground. "Tabuty” is a local term for hand frames, which were used to carry the body of the deceased to a burial place. According to a local belief as every person has a number of sins the frames cannot be reused to bury another person. If it happens it means that sins of the previously deceased are added up to the ones of the person for whom the frame was taken. By the way, this tradition exists among all Muslim peoples residing in the territory of Khwarezm. In addition to the above mentioned version, there is another belief regarding the frames: they serve as a ladder, with the help of which the souls of the deceased get into the better world.

Let’s continue our ride! Next stop is the observation deck on the Amu Darya. There is an impressive view of the muddy water surface from the deck. This is a great Asian River. Majestic and fretful it defined the lifestyle of the locals as it was a source of water for a unique irrigation system developed in the ancient Khwarezmia. And now, mostly due to irrational water use for irrigation purposes, the river carries nothing to the Aral Sea, which is deceasing. A lot to think about, isn’t it?

A long awaited lunch in the road chaykhana promises to be tasty and of a proper Uzbek quality as the people of this nice country just don’t understand how one can snack with hot-dog and Coca-Cola and be happy afterwards! Well, in fact the reason is that Cola tastes differently when it is so hot around and fridges don’t help. However, traditional tea will be just fine.

Before a mid-sized town with an optimistic name "Drujba” ("Friendship”) we are to stop at the small local bazaar where you can buy various fruits as well as excellent water melons and sweet melons. "Melon is the food of the wise men!” is said in the Orient, so go ahead and taste it! No official research was carried out regarding the level of wisdom before and after eating melons, so you can start one of your own!

As you arrive to Bukhara after a long and tiring day on the road you will check - in to the hotel and have a rest there!

Day 6. Bukhara.
What are we doing today? Certainly, continue discovering the treasures hidden in your casket! Bukhara is rightfully considered to be one of the most ancient cities in the world as it is more than 2500 years old! This Muslim oasis is full of the ancient history. Medieval Bukhara was not only a big political, cultural and trading centre but also a religious centre of the Middle East. That’s why in Bukhara, better than in any other city of Central Asia, one can observe an "architectural evolution” of the mosque-building traditions. Well, it doesn’t actually mean that you won’t see any madrassas, minarets and mausoleums here as well as other contrasting things either evoking a smile or a wish to wonder around the city alone thinking about the eternal.

First, you will explore the Mausoleum of the Samanid (IX–Õ CC), which is a pearl of Central Asian architecture. It is a family tomb of a local dynasty, which was founded by Ismail Samani. The epoch of the Samanid dynasty rule is also called the "Eastern Renaissance”, which is not groundless as it was a period of the fabulous shift in the development of culture and science of the region. The mausoleum has got a very interesting history. This great monument of the past was saved from demolition by Genghis Khan army only by a miracle and a wit of the locals, who buried the mausoleum under the sand so as there was only a dune in the place of the mausoleum. Later, when the war was over, the sand was taken away. Therefore, the mausoleum still exists only because of the care of the locals.

Upon leaving the Park of the Samanid don’t forget to have a look at the Chashma Ayub Mazar (or mausoleum) (XII C), which is translated as "the spring of Job”. This place is the best demonstration of the Silk Road impact onto the development of countries interconnected by this route, including even the remotest ones. Who could even think that here, in Central Asia, Christian legends about Biblical characters may appear? Nevertheless, the legend tells us that Job (Ayub) was wondering in this region in the tome of drought. Locals, exhausted by thirst, were asking for water. Then the prophet had stroke the ground with his stick and the next moment clear spring appeared there. It is still accessible for the wonderers.

Today you will admire at the most ancient fortress of Bukhara, Ark citadel (end of the III C), which vividly fits in the local scenery, and is an impressive reinforced fort from which Bukhara was starting long ago. Present-day appearance of the citadel correlates with the time of last restoration of the Ark gates by Shakh Murad Khan, known as the «sinless Amir». It is considered, that in the times of the other governor called Nasrullah Khan, known as the «butcher Amir» for its cruelty, leather lash, was hanging on one of the walls of the fortress being a symbol of his authoritarian power. As a matter of fact, the Ark citadel hosted the whole city including residential and administrative buildings, mosque, prison, treasury, residence of the Amir, etc.

The Po-i-Kalyan complex (XII-XVI CC) is the central one in Bukhara and is translated as the "Grand Foundation" meaning that it is the base of the famous Minaret Kalyan (the height of the minaret is 49 m, it was built in 1127), which is the highest tower in Bukhara. It is a miracle that the minaret is still there after numerous wars and invasions. For centuries it was used as a watchtower. Also it was known as the Tower of Death, as for centuries criminals were publicly executed here (by being tossed off the top). Interestingly, the word "minaret” means in Arabic the "place where something is lighted”. Many legends relate to this majestic tower, however, you will find out all the secrets in place!

The Madrasah of Ulugh Bek (XV C) was built in Bukhara in 1417, just as in Samarkand to raise national literacy. Ulugh Bek was a fair and well-educated ruler, who was always following high ideals of science and enlightenment. Noteworthy is his treatment of women. For example, the words carved on the doors of his madrasah in Bukhara are the following: «Aspiration for knowledge is a duty of every Muslim man and woman». Another maxim from the same source states: «Let the doors of the God’s blessings be open for the people, who are literate and wise, every day». One can easily guess what a negative reaction was displayed by the clergy towards such a policy of the temporal power!

Next you will head to the Lyab-i Hauz (meaning "by the pond”) ensemble (XVI-XVII CC), which contains the Kukeldash Madrasah (1568), and the Khanaqah and Madrasah of Nadir Divan-Beghi (1622). All constructions are grouped around one of the ponds, which survived the mass drainage of Bukhara at the Soviet times (at those times it was kind of a practical requirement, as ponds were disease-breeders among local folks). The pond"s history is the one, which deserves to be told. Long-long time ago there stood a house of an aged Jewish widow in the place of this pond. As Dmitry Page writes: «Divan-Beghi decided this place to be ideal for the pond by Khanaqah. He asked the widow to sell her yard and mentioned an acceptable price. But the Jewess refused at any price. Then Divan-Beghi led her to the Amir, being confident that the latter would impel her to sell the house. But Imam-Quli Khan committed the case to the mufti board. Muslim jurists decided not to force the yard from Jewess, as Jews in their judgement should enjoy the same rights as Muslims. But a sly grandee laid an Aryk to his new pond under the widow"s house… After a time, when water started to scour the base of her house, widow came to Divan-Beghi praying for his conscience. He answered that his offer is still valid and he will immediately pay her the cost of the house if only she agreed to sell it. The widow said she did not need any money. The only thing she asked for was an exchange of her house to an allotment with permission to build a synagogue there. Divan-Beghi accepted her alternative and handed the woman his allotment situated at the quarter, which is now called the «Jewish» one (Mahall-i Kukhma). Shortly, the first synagogue in Bukhara and great hauz (pond) were built due to the above-mentioned people.

Don’t miss a chance to walk around the evening city. Here, in the narrow streets dodging in between clay houses one can comprehend the real taste of the Orient!

Tired? Let’s go back to the hotel and have a rest. Tomorrow you are supposed to discover another grasp of surprises stored in your metaphorical oriental adventures!

Day 7. Bukhara.
Your morning in the hotel starts from breakfast. Afterwards you will continue exploring Bukhara and have a fascinating excursion.

Today you will make a ride to the country (it’s just a 15-20 minute ride from Bukhara), where you will see a summer residence of the Amir of Bukhara (XIX C) called «Sitora-i Mokh-i Khosa». («The Palace of the Moon and Stars»). The palace is an amazing combination of the European, Oriental and Russian architecture, because before the construction works were started Ahad Khan (the Amir of Bukhara at that time) had send a group of his architects to Yalta and St.-Petersburg for the experience exchange. Thus, he’d got what he’d got, however, the Orient benefited anyway – despite the fact that the style is mixed it is another one pearl, which both enriches the history of the region and makes people proud of it, when the palace is shown o tourists!

Also let’s take a look at the complex of Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari, which is sometimes treated as the Central Asian Mecca. Baha-ud-Din Naqshband was a mentor of Tamerlane and a powerful Sufi, who became the founder of the Sufi Order called Naqshbandia, which soon became one of the most famous orders. A noteworthy fact is that the order perfectly got on with the official Islam and encouraged its followers to work for the benefit of the entire society. Thus, in fact, it was based on a quite rational set of principles although it had also adsorbed various beliefs of the Sufis, Zoroastrians, and, as some sources state, even Buddhists! The complex includes many different buildings: mosques, a minaret, a mausoleum, and a khanaqah. However, one of the most remarkable is a burial vault of the Amirs, which is a maze made up of brick walls a bit higher than an average human height is. In a day time this place is reverent and peaceful. However, I guess, it is scary here at night because as you carefully step along the walls you suddenly realize that there are tombs inside and you’re not in an ordinary maze but in a real vault. Another legendary attraction in the territory of the complex is a dry mulberry trunk lying at the pond (hauz). As you touch it don’t forget to make a wish!

Upon coming back to Bukhara you can enjoy wondering around craftsmen shops, located in the building of former caravanserais. And also visit the golden and carpet bazaars in Bukhara even if you’re not going to buy anything. It is said here that "the appetite comes when you start eating”! The golden bazaar is unique among all other Oriental bazaars. The distinctive factor is the following - none of the sellers is going to bore you with the offers of their jewelry as it usually happens in other Oriental bazaars; they will wait with dignity for you to come yourself!

After dinner, having walked till the drop, you will spend another night in the hotel in Bukhara.

 

Day 8. Bukhara - Shakhrisabz - Samarkand (300 km, 4,5-5 hrs.).
The road from Bukhara to Shakhrisabz goes through the desert again. Through the Central Asian desert, which is different from Egyptian, Mexican or any other desert in the world. That"s because it is a so-called permanent desert, which blossoms in spring and turns into a dried plain at the end of the summer. Here saxauls growing at the waysides relieve the monotony of the landscape for a bit. There are many towns as well as cotton fields, watermelon plantations and vineyards on the way. Thus, if you are there during cropping, you will be able to buy fruits gathered from the watermelon plantations and in the gardens right there at the wayside.

The foothills have appeared in the distance, so, it means that we are almost at the spot. «Shakhrisabz is a pearl of the Orient», - is sung in a famous Russian song. Well, and you are to decide if it is true! The city charms right away. The word "Shakhrisabz” means the «City of Green». You are lucky as you will be able to see the constructions dated back to the XV C just as they were then, as they have been preserved through ages. Are you ready to look at the most rare treasures of you casket? Let’s go then!

All architectural attractions of Shakhrisabz are related to Tamerlane and his family in one or another way, as this famous commander was born not far from here. Moreover, for a long time his residence was also here despite the fact that at that time nearby Samarkand was the capital city. Consequently, many constructions were erected by orders of Timur Lang. In particular, it was his summer palace Ak-Saray. Its construction was started in 1380 and continued 25 years! Unfortunately, only two pylons of the entrance portal are preserved. In the past they were connected with the arch, which was one of the largest in Central Asia (according to the calculations of the architects it was higher than a modern 20-storey, i.e. its height was about 70 meters). In fact, even these two pylons are quite impressive, even these remains allow us imagine the power and eminence of legendary Tamerlane.

Next you will proceed to the majestic Dor-ut Siodat complex (the "Adobe of the Power”). Now it is difficult to imagine those separated constructions in the centre of Shakhrisabz being related to each other, although they were. Those constructions are a high mausoleum with a conic dome and an underground vault, which is about 40 meters away. However, in the epoch of the Timurids they were making up a single ensemble. Timur started construction of the mausoleum in 1376 when his elder 20-year-old son Jahongir died. In 18 years the remains of his second son, Omar Sheikh, killed during a siege of a Kurd fortress, were also brought here. In the XX C during excavations of the mausoleum by chance a vault was discovered to the east from the mausoleum. Seems like it was built to rest the remains of the great commander himself. However, it happened to be that Timur’s remains found their resting place in his beloved Samarkand.

The last but not the least in historical terms pearl of Shakhrisabz is the complex of constructions, which were surrounded by wall in the past and composed the Dor-ut Tillavat Madrasah, Its name is translated as the "House of Meditation”. Here two persons important for Tamerlane are buried: his father Taragay and Kulial The Potter, who was a teacher of the Sufi Baha-ud-Din Naqshband. As you already know he founded the Dervish Order called Naqshbandia and was a personal mentor of Timur. In 1435 the Juma Mosque called Kok-Ghumbaz was built at the territory of the madrasah in addition to the existing mausoleums. "Kok-Ghumbaz” means an "Azure Dome”.

So, it’s time to say good-bye to Shakhrisabz and head for the beloved city of Tamerlane, the capital of his once great and mighty empire - Samarkand. Another 150 kilometers and here it is - the most precious treasure of your Oriental adventures!

Upon arrival to Samarkand you are accommodated in a hotel where you can have some rest as tomorrow we will have quite long, but full of events, interesting day.

Day 9. Samarkand.
Well, Samarkand is another one ancient oasis, a famous pearl of Central Asian steppes and deserts! This ancient city was one of the main points of the Great Silk Road, city-museum, which has retained the unique spirit of the Middle Ages just like Khiva and Bukhara.

So, after breakfast in the hotel we go out to the streets of this dream city and move towards… Certainly, we will go towards the central city square called Registan! At first Registan (translated as a "sandy place”) functioned as the centre of trade and crafts. In other words, it was an ordinary bazaar, which spontaneously appeared at the crossing of six roads leading from the city gates. This place of public gatherings was not only a bazaar, but also served as the central square where Amir’s decrees were announced and public holidays celebrated, even demonstrative public executions were performed here in the past. It is thought that Registan sand was red because it adsorbed the blood of numerous convicts. However, in 1875 the square was cobbled with baked bricks and stones, which are still there now.

The Registan is encircled with the majestic buildings from three sides, which are dated back to different centuries. Those buildings are famous Muslim educational institutions: the Madrasah of Ulugh Bek (1417-1420), the Sher-Dor Madrasah (1619-1636), and the Tilya-Kori Madrasah (1647-1660).

Next you are to see the Gur-e Amir Mausoleum, which is the famous necropolis of Tamerlane. Do you remember his empty vault in Shakhrisabz? See, it happens all the time: as soon as someone the great dies, his last will is suddenly forgotten! So, Tamerlane was buried in Samarkand. In fact the entire complex is not preserved, but the central building is still there and it attracts a lot of tourists. We enter the mausoleum with respect and there is a black tomb of Timur inside. It is nephrite. It is empty. Well, this is a so-called cenotaph and a real tomb is in the basement. By the way, the tomb of the great lame is a bit "injured”: it is told that during the raid on Samarkand one Turkish shakh filched this "object of greatness” and transported it to his home country. But Timur despite being a happy dweller of the better world was a bit "against” - after the disappearance of the tombstone a large earthquake happened in Turkey! Then the ill-starred shakh returned the tombstone onto its place, however, it seems that it was damaged somewhere on the way. That’s why it is all chapped now.

Another treasure waiting to be discovered by you today is the Mosque of Bibi-Khanym. It was also built during the reign of Amir Timur and this is the only fact about it, which doesn’t give rise to doubts. Other than that there are many contradictory legends about this cathedral mosque, so, it is not clear where the truth is. One of the least known legends was published far back in 1875 in a local newspaper "Turkestanskie Vedomosti” ("Turkestan News”). Later (thanks to Maksim Isaev) it got to the Internet. This story tells that Bibi-Khanym, Amir Timur’s beloved wife, in the name of whom the mosque was built, was not Asian. She was Russian and, as it is said she was a quite superstitious person. Once a "God’s fool” told her that she would die from a bite of a venomous centipede - phalanx. The queen was quite worried and told her husband about the prophecy. So, in order to calm his wife down, Amir Timur decided to create a nice building for her. It is said that after the building was finished, Bibi-Khanym was quite happy with this great construction.

The Shah-i Zinda complex located in the southern part of an ancient settlement Afrosiab is also of a great historical value (and hence, of interest for us). Shah-i Zinda (it literally means "King Alive”) is a necropolis, which appeared around the supposed grave of a Muslim Saint Kusam ibn Abbas, the cousin of Muhammad the Prophet. In addition you will take a look at such famous historical attractions as the Observatory of Ulugh Bek, the Mausoleum of Khodja Doniyor, the Hazrat-Khyzr Mosque, and Ishratkhona.

And you will certainly like to have a rest at a hotel after the long tour you’ve made today.

Day 10. Samarkand - Urgut (50 km, 1 hrs.) - Samarkand.
Today we will have a ride to a small town called Urgut, where there is one of the main attractions of Samarkand region - large oriental bazaar. One can purchase both antiques and modern craft works here. Main working days of the bazaar are Saturday and Sunday. These days one can buy carpets, hand-made embroidery (syuzane), leather shoes, jewelry, various artworks made of metal, ceramics, wooden trunks and lots more. There are many spots right at the territory of the bazaar where such dishes of local cuisine as palaw and oriental dumplings (or manty) are prepared. Blacksmith shops, tin-smitheries and local costume shops are located close to the bazaar.

So today, as you’ve walked a lot, visited the bazaar, purchased souvenirs, taken a lot of colorful pictures, had a substantial dinner and probably got tired you will spend another night at the hotel in Samarkand.

Day 11. Samarkand - Tashkent (330 km, 5-6 hrs.).
Today in the morning you will be transferred to Tashkent where you feel once again unique and warm atmosphere of this capital city. However, today you will look at this city from another perspective!

You will visit the famous State Opera and Ballet Theatre named after Alisher Navoi also known as the Big Academic Theatre, which you saw only from the outside last time. It is considered to be the largest one in South-East Asia!

Besides, today you will be able to walk around the Amir Timur Square, which is the city centre, and to have a look at the monument erected in his (Tamerlane’s) honor, which is in fact a zero kilometer of the country. And just across the road there is the Museum of the Timurids History - a cylindrical construction in the centre of Tashkent, which is a real masterpiece of modern architecture! Taking into account numerous discussions related to the mysterious personality of this eminent Central Asian conqueror you may be interested to see the museum exhibition, which is still amending, and try to solve a riddle of Timur the Great.

Overnight in Tashkent. Tomorrow you will head for the legendary Ferghana valley to continue discovering the treasures of your oriental adventures!

Day 12. Tashkent - Kokand - Rishtan - Ferghana (330 km, 5-6 hrs.).
Well, today you will see the legendary Ferghana Valley with your own eyes! In the past due to its fertile lands it was called even a "gold valley”! The most amazing about Ferghana valley is that besides the fact that almost all architectural complexes of the region are appearing in their primordial state, its inhabitants have managed to keep traditions of the past - it is true for their cuisine, hand-made silk manufacturing and almost all cultural aspects of life, including their lifestyles.

Firstly, you will visit an ancient oasis of the Ferghana valley - the city of Kokand. This city won’t leave you indifferent as not long ago (at the end of the XIX - the beginning of the XX C) Kokand was the second largest city of the Ferghana Valley! Kokand is known since the X C, however, its age of prosperity was the XVIII C when it became the centre of the Khanate of Kokand and a religious centre of the region.

The so-called «Urda» or the Palace of Khudayar Khan, who was the last ruler of Kokand, is quite well-preserved. Moreover, it was restored a little in 2009 ãîäó. The palace consisted of 7 buildings and 119 rooms once. That time the entire territory of "Urda” was encircled by the inner and outer fences. Unfortunately, the fences were completely destroyed, and only two courtyards and 19 rooms have been preserved.

Undoubtedly, the most interesting is the cemetery of the khans of Kokand as it is the attraction composed of numerous attractions! Here you will discover the necropolis of Umar Khan called Dakhma-i-Shakhon (1825 ãîä), which decorative patterns remind the patterns of the Bolo-Hauz mosque in Bukhara. Next you will see the Mausoleum of Modari Khan, where you find out a life story of a poetess Nadira executed by order of the Amir of Bukhara and it will make you sad. This necropolis was built in the memory of hers! Then we’ll see the Juma mosque (1800 ãîä), where Friday prayers were usually conducted. This mosque is also famous with its roof-supporting pillars made of a solid nettle tree. Also we will be able to see the Amir (XVIII C) and Norbutabi (1799) madrassas. Nowadays the Juma Mosque is hosted in the building of the latter.

Interesting, isn’t it? There’s even more to follow. Today you will have another one pleasant acquaintance. We arrive at Rishtan city, which is known all around Uzbekistan and abroad for its factory and hand-made ceramics. The pottery exists here for more than a thousand years! There were times, when all the men in the city were potters. But even nowadays, you won’t confuse the unique and full of oriental charm fine lacy Rishtan ceramics and paintings of all colors of blue with no other.

In the evening, having arrived to Ferghana, you can have a rest in the hotel room.

Day 13. Ferghana - Margilan - Ferghana. Evening flight Ferghana - Tashkent (HY1416 21:45/22:30).
Today you will have an opportunity to see the Ferghana valley closer! Ferghana is quite a young city, which was founded in 1876 thanks to the general Skobelev. Noteworthy that once the city was called New Margilan. Besides, Ferghana is only 12 km away from Old Margilan! Most likely that the cities will merge over time due to the population growth and new buildings’ construction in the valley. However, now they are still regarded as separate cities.

So, let’s start our journey to Margilan, whose origin is being associated with the Great Silk Road, which undoubtedly you heard a lot about. In X C Margilan was widely known for its silk ware, and its fame spread over long distances to the East and the West. You will have a chance to see these unique items, during the excursion to the "Yodgorlik” silk factory. Certainly, in the past silk, khan-atlas, bekasam, and other oriental cloths were hand-made, but still you can find out many interesting facts at the factory. Besides, while in Margilan you will visit the oriental Bazaar, where you can also buy some Margilan silk and many other interesting things.

At the end of the XV - the beginning of the XVI C Margilan was also famous due to the following circumstance: one of Timur Lang"s grandsons - sultan Babur - was born and raised here. He became a ruler of Ferghana and later founded the Mughal Empire in India. In addition, he was the founder of his own dynasty - the Baburid (note that different sources also refer to it as the Timurids or the Mughal dynasty) - who were ruling till the middle of the XIX C. You will surely have a lot of pleasant memories of this city as being the travelers’ shelter for ages it is still full of verdure! The architectural complex Kaftarlik (XVIII C) will make you believe that you decision to come here was not a mistake as you are about to see the mosque with the unique paintings and mysterious minarets.

Having reached Ferghana, you will have an opportunity to relax in the hotel room.

Day 14. Tashkent - Chimgan - Charvak - Tashkent.
Today you will have a ride to the Chimgan Mountains famous around entire Central Asia.

Chimgan (The Western Tyan-Shan Mountains) provides various possibilities for active rest in any season. Chimgan attracts different people - tourists, alpinists, rock climbers, botanists, ornithologists, archaeologists, paleontologists - and all of them get a great blast of energy, cheerfulness and inspiration from generous nature. Wide biodiversity allows developing "landscape” tourism too. Mountains (the peaks of Maliy and Bolshoi Chimgan), plains, the waterfalls of Gulkam and Novotash attract many mountaineers both from Uzbekistan and from abroad.

In Chimgan you can choose from a range of activities: you can ride a horse, rent skis, sledges or try an off-highway vehicle, or enjoy the height and beauty of the mountains from the funicular.

Besides, according to your wish you may go down to the Charvak water reserve - the gem of the Chimgan, which merrily sparkles under the bright Uzbek sun. Nowadays this is a water reserve with crystal pure water, where thousands of tourists come to enjoy the nature of this amazingly beautiful land and local mountains, to fish, swim and sunbathe, to try catamarans, boats or scooters. In general, all kinds of active summer rest are guaranteed here. You will have a short excursion at the territory of Charvak. After that you will proceed to Tashkent.

Overnight at a hotel in Tashkent.

Day 15. Tashkent. Departure.
The final day of your journey has started. It is strange, but it seems that the treasures of your oriental adventures are inexhaustible and never cease to charm! Guess, on the whole, apart from numerous attractions left behind the scene, Uzbekistan has already amazed you, hasn’t it? We hope that it amazed you not only by its ancient mausoleums, palaces and fortresses, but by the lifestyles of its people and their non-material culture.

We’ll have to say good-bye to each other soon… Mysterious Tashkent cheerfully smiles at you for the last time! It’s time to go the airport. And don’t forget your casket of oriental adventure or you’ll certainly miss it! We are looking forward to your future visit!

 
The cost of the tour in USD for 1 person :
Group 1 2 3-4 SGL supplement
Hotels of 2-3* 3564 2220 2088 270
Hotels of 3-4* 4176 2664 2526 390

The cost tour includes:

Accommodation at the hotels on twin/double share with breakfast:

City

Hotels 2-3*

Hotels 3-4*

Tashkent

Sairam Hotel 2*+
or similar

Tashkent Palace 4*
or similar

Samarkand

Malika Samarkand 2*+
or similar

Asia Samarkand 3*+
or similar

Bukhara

Minzifa Hotel 2*
or similar

You can write your wishes.
Our phones: +7(911) 228-03-01    +7(911) 920 4 920, +7(981)820 46 80
Site: Incomingitstour.com      E-mail: itstour@mail.ru
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Travel company "ITS-Tour"
Russia, St-Petersburg,
 

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